Information and Services
- Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Island: High Tea to Low Tide
- Vancouver’s Totem Poles
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking
- Family Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
- Focus on Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Weekend Getaway
- Victoria Weekend Getaway
- A Tour Through Time
- Inside Passage Cruises
- Outdoor Adventures
- Winter Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
As in the United States, Canadian currency is based on dollars and cents. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents, and 1 and 2 dollars. The $1 coin is the gold-colored “loonie,” named for the bird featured on it. The unique $2 coin, introduced in 1996, is silver with a gold-colored insert. Notes come in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations.
All prices quoted in this travel guide are in Canadian dollars unless noted. American dollars are accepted at many tourist areas, but the exchange rate is more favorable at banks. Currency other than U.S. dollars can be exchanged at most banks, airport money-changing facilities, and foreign exchange brokers in Vancouver, Victoria, and Whistler. Traveler’s checks are the safest way to carry money, but a fee is often charged to cash them if they’re in a currency other than Canadian dollars. All major credit and charge cards are honored at Canadian banks, gas stations, and most commercial establishments. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) can be found in almost every town.
The cost of living in Vancouver and Victoria is similar to that of all other Canadian major cities, but higher than in the United States. If you will be staying in hotels or motels, accommodations will be your biggest expense. Gasoline is sold in liters (3.78 liters equals one U.S. gallon) and is generally $1–1.30 cents a liter for regular unleaded.
Tipping charges are not usually added to your bill. You are expected to add a tip of 15–20 percent to the total amount for waiters and waitresses, barbers and hairdressers, taxi drivers, and other such service providers. Bellhops, doormen, and porters generally receive $1 per item of baggage.
Canada imposes a 6 percent goods and services tax (GST) on most consumer purchases. The British Columbia government imposes its own 7.5 percent tax (PST) onto everything except groceries and books. So when you are looking at the price of anything, remember that the final cost you pay will include an additional 13.5 percent in taxes.
Before leaving home, you should contact Tourism British Columbia (800/435-5622, www.hellobc.com) and request a free information package and map. The other major tourism agencies in the region are Tourism Vancouver (604/682-2222, www.tourismvancouver.com), Tourism Victoria (250/953-2033 or 800/663-3883, www.tourismvictoria.com), Tourism Vancouver Island (250/754-3500, www.vancouverisland.travel), and Tourism Whistler (604/932-5922, www.tourismwhistler.com).
Canada Post (www.canadapost.ca) issues postage stamps that must be used on all mail posted in Canada. First-class letters and postcards sent within Canada are $0.52, to the United States $0.93, to foreign destinations $1.55. Prices increase along with the weight of the mailing. You can buy stamps at post offices, automatic vending machines, most hotel lobbies, airports, Pacific Central Station (Vancouver), many retail outlets, and some newsstands.
The vast majority of Vancouver telephone numbers have the 604 area code. The area code 778 applies to new numbers, but its implementation means that you must add the relevant area code to all numbers dialed within Vancouver. Victoria, Vancouver Island, and rest of British Columbia use mostly 250, with the area code 778 added in 2007. Dial these prefixes for all long- distance calls.
Weights and Measures
Like every country in the world except the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar, Canada is on the metric system (see the Metric System chart at the back of this book), although many people talk about distance in miles and supermarket prices are advertised by ounces and pounds.
Electrical voltage is 120 volts, the same as in the United States.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition